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Everyone wants their car to look good after an auto detailing session. And, if you’re anything like us, you don’t just want your car to look good—you want it to look incredible, especially if you’re putting in the work yourself. The real trouble is all the trial and error it takes to figure out which combination of products and techniques will bring out the best in your vehicle.
Luckily, there isn’t just one way to create the ultimate “wow” factor. In fact, there are a number of different ways you can protect and restore your vehicle so that it shines like new, depending on how much time you have and how often you maintain your car or truck. So, instead of scouring the internet in hopes of finding the best detailing supplies or the ultimate exterior detailing routine, take a look at these 3 ways to detail your car (or any vehicle, for that matter!) to achieve incredible, showroom results, right in your driveway!
Instead of paying for auto detailing services, you can get nearly the same results in just a fraction of the time with this quick detailing routine. If you use your car every day, the results won’t last as long as a professional detail, so the fast detail works best if you detail your vehicle regularly—at least once a month—or if this isn’t your daily driver. The fast detail method takes 2.5 hours or less, so you can easily fit it into your weekend schedule or get it done on a warm, summer afternoon!
Start by washing your car with a purpose-built car wash soap like M.A.X. Power Detergent. You can use this car shampoo as either a gentle wash or a heavy-duty degreaser, depending on the amount of soap you add to your bucket. Use a sponge or car wash mitt to scrub any tough stains or soils stuck to the surface of your vehicle. Rinse your car thoroughly with a hose and towel dry.
Place a sandwich bag over your hand and gently glide it across the surface of your car to inspect your finish. If your paint exterior feels smooth like glass, skip straight to your polish and wax. If you feel any grittiness as you perform your surface inspection, you’ll need to use a clay bar to lift any embedded contaminants from the clear coat. Apply a clay bar lubricant like Wax Shop Slick & Slide and work the clay bar over each 2’ x 2’ panel of your vehicle in straight, back-and-forth passes. Wipe away any excess product or residue with a fresh, microfiber towel.
Once you’ve washed and clay barred your finish, you can save time and effort while still achieving incredible results by using an all-in-one, polish and wax to protect and restore your finish. We recommend our Hybrid Solutions Polish & Wax to smooth light scratches and imperfections while laying down a sleek layer of hydrophobic, ceramic protection.
With the medium detail, you can achieve 80% of a professional detail with just a bit more time and effort. The medium detail method takes approximately 3 to 3.5 hours to complete. If you detail your vehicle once per season, we recommend this mid-level routine to refresh your car and give it that extra pop of gloss!
Start by washing your car and applying a clay bar as needed, the same way you would with the fast detailing method. Then, inspect your finish for scratches and swirls. This time, you’ll want to use a light-duty compound, like Hybrid Solutions 1 & Done, along with a fine-grit cutting pad to correct any localized scratches or light imperfections in the clear coat. You can correct these paint defects by hand or save time and energy by using a dual action polisher. Use a pad that allows you to correct these areas with one pass. If you’re new to the car you’re working with, it’s a good idea to perform a spot test to see which combination of cutting pad and rubbing compound works best on your clear coat.
Once you’ve removed any scratches, oxidation and paint transfer from the clear coat, switch to a foam finishing pad to buff the rest of your paint surfaces to a mirror-like shine. Wipe away any excess product using a clean, microfiber towel.
Finally, you’ll want to lay down a new foundation of protection for your freshly restored paintwork. We recommend a hybrid wax like Hybrid Solutions PRO Flex Wax or PRO Max to the Wax, infused with pure graphene and ceramic polymers, to give your car exceptional durability and a long-lasting gloss. You can also apply this wax to your exterior trim to protect these plastic and rubber surfaces from cracking or fading in the sun!
You can take your car to a professional for a complete detail, or you pick up some products from your local auto supply store and do the same car detailing services yourself! This method is a bit more involved and requires a full day to complete, but the result is the same, breathtaking, finish that would otherwise cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars at the detail shop. This method is great for a car that hasn’t been detailed since you first bought it, or if you only want to detail your vehicle once or twice a year, with quick touch-ups in between.
Start by removing your floor mats from inside your car and vacuuming your carpet and upholstery. Use an interior detailing spray like Oxy Interior 1 or Hybrid Solutions Streak-Free Interior Mist to remove stains and soils and hydrate these areas, as well as protect them from the sun’s harsh UV rays.
Next, if you have a pressure washer, use it with a 40-degree tip to pressure wash your wheel wells and the lower rocker panels to remove any leftover brake dust and soils. Then, use a dedicated wheel cleaner, such as our All Wheel & Tire Cleaner, along with a wheel woolie brush to deep clean every intricate surface of your wheels and tires. Be sure reach deep between the rotors and calipers to remove as much brake dust as you can. You can also scrub the wheel faces and lug nuts clean with a soft-bristle detailing brush. Once you’re done, rinse and dry your wheels, then apply a tire shine spray like our Wet’N Black Tire Shine to give your tires and incredible shine and a jet-black finish that lasts and lasts.
After you wash and protect your wheels, wash and dry your entire car, using a clay bar as needed. If you have stubborn, stuck-on contaminants like tree sap or bird droppings that won’t come clean with a regular car wash soap, don’t scrub and scrub. We recommend using a specialty cleaner like Turtle Wax Bug & Tar Remover to spot clean these areas before moving on to your next step.
Inspect your vehicle for scratches, fine lines and swirls. For a complete detail, you’ll want to use an adjustable compound like Hybrid Solutions PRO 1 & Done with a heavy-duty cutting pad and a dual action polisher to correct and restore these painted surfaces and remove more severe scrapes or imperfections from the finish.
If your headlights are starting to look yellow or foggy, we recommend using a headlight restorer such as our Speed Lens Restorer Kit to remove any oxidation and protect your lenses. This step will improve your ability to see the road at night, making your vehicle safer to drive while making your headlights sparkle and shine like new.
Take time to protect and shine your plastic and rubber trim. Use a soft, microfiber cloth to apply a trim protectant like Turtle Wax Inside & Out Protectant to all your interior and exterior trim to protect these surfaces from the sun’s harsh UV rays.
Once you’ve finished deep cleaning and restoring your vehicle, perform one final inspection to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. And finally, top off your sparkling car or truck with a layer of protective wax. We recommend a liquid or paste wax like Hybrid Solutions 75th Anniversary Ceramic + Graphene Paste Wax for over 6 months of water-beading action, heat and chemical resistance and UV protection, along with an incredible, eye-popping gloss.
Once you’ve detailed your car, all you need to do is maintain it! It only takes 30 minutes to an hour to keep your car looking showroom fresh, as opposed to the many hours required to restore it.
If you need a bit of extra motivation, just remember: the longer you neglect your car, the longer that next detailing session will be!
And, if you need help finding the right products or tools, Turtle Wax has your back.
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